Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas gathering and Saratoga Foothill Club

Today we had a small Christmas gathering for the plein air group at my house. The weather cooperated nicely and we were able to paint outside and enjoy the views. I was a little preoccupied with organizing lunch, but did manage a couple of quick brush pen sketches of the hillside behind me, and a half hour sketch of the valley in front. For some reason I started the sketches by drawing the middle of the hillside at the top of the page. So the brush pen sketches are actually the opposite way round in my sketchbook, but through the wonders of photoshop I can post them so that they actually look like the hillside!

When I got my paints out I realized that I had two watercolors in my sketchbook that I hadn't posted, from a previous paintsite in November at the Saratoga Foothill Club.
Looking back at them now I am quite happy with how the colors came out that day. I remember it was pretty cold that day and I was sitting in the shade for the first painting so I had to move into the sun to thaw out a little.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Birds at Emma Prusch Farm

This week's paintsite was at Emma Prusch Farm. I've painted the house many times so I strayed into the barnyard and was attracted by all the geese, chickens and peacocks strutting around.
The geese were busy preening and taking short naps before the day's next invasion of school children.
I was very pleased with some of these quick gesture sketches of the birds, trying to catch their shapes as they stood on first one leg, then the other, or stretched out their wings.

Shoreline Hike and Sketch

I've been a bit of slacker with posting my sketches. Better late than never, here are some drawings from our hike and sketch at Shoreline Park.

There were a lot of birds to watch, and the color started to get really interesting towards late afternoon. I didn't take my paints - so made do with pen only.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin

Last week's paintsite was in Japantown at the Buddhist Church on North 5th St. We had a huge rain storm two days previous, so I dressed for cool weather - was surprised by hot tropical weather!
We were sat out on the sidewalk painting in full sun, so eventually it got way too hot to do anything. I didn't even do a drawing for the second sketch, just launched in quickly with the paints.
Over lunch, some adorable children came across from the Kindergarten to look at our paintings. I'm not sure they were that impressed!

Alum Rock Hike and Sketch

This week we went on a hike and sketch in Alum Rock Park. The day started out foggy, which was a nice atmospheric change and gave us a few challenges for painting.

We were only a short distance from the carpark when we came across beautiful views and lovely colors, and we had to stop several times in quick succession to paint.

We were stopped on the trail at this point by a magnificent view looking up the hill into the fog. The fog drifted over the hilltops and was continually changing. It was so peaceful and calming sitting there. After we had painted for about 20 minutes the fog started to clear and by the time we left it was blue sky and sunshine and the hillside had totally different colors and shadows.
Eventually we did get to do a little more hiking than sketching and discovered a large, dead tarantula on the trail (why didn't I suggest sketching it?) The male tarantulas are all out looking for females this time of year and I guess it came off poorly in the mating game.

After lunch we made our way back down into the valley and sketched alongside the creek.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Aerodynamic Aviation, Reid Hillview Airport

Fly me to the moon, la la. Well, fly me over the Bay at least...

Here we are today at my local airport trying to paint the planes. Like boats, they're quite a challenge. Somehow, you think you have them contained on the page, but then you realize they're bigger than you first thought and the perspective is damned tricky!
It was a lot of fun.

Many thanks to Aerodynamic Aviation for hosting us.


Here is a recent pet portrait I did for a friend. I just love to paint animals, it's a challenge, but also fun!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Coastal Bliss

This last Thursday paint out was wonderful. Imagine sun, sand, surf, gulls and pelicans. Down at Point Pinos Lighthouse the views were terrific and the weather perfect. My first painting turned out remarkably well. In fact one passing car load of people asked if it was for sale. I replied that regrettably it was in my sketchbook and on the back of another painting. If I'd had my wits about me I should just have ripped it out and asked for $50!
My second painting was not quite so successful, but parts of the third one came out ok. For this last one I sat under some trees on the very edge of the golf course, beyond a bunker. Fortunately the golfers seemed competent enough not to send the balls in my direction!
The whole day was like a salve for the soul. Gorgeous seascapes, good company, and time spent with paints. it doesn't get any better than that!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wow, its been a while!

Wow, I can't believe how long it is since I last posted here. Life (and death) circumstances have taken my time instead. I created this blog to share my art with my mum and daughter. Sadly my mum has passed away and her support and encouragement will be greatly missed.
Mum would be cross if I didn't continue, so, I'm back! Most recent work first - some very quick sketches from our visit in downtown Los Gatos on Thursday. Top - Le Boulanger. Above Santa Cruz and Main Street, with a sad half-assed watercolor wash. (I'm using brush pens for drawing as I seem to have mislaid my regular pens!)

Next some sketches from Shoup Park, Los Altos.
The top one was the first one I did, so I didn't quite have my sketching eye in. then I changed positions and did the second sketch and the painting. The sculpture there is called "The Cradle of Liberty" and the soldier is holding a baby. I was quite pleased with how the painting came out.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Garrod Winery and Lake Cunningham

Wow, its been an age since I last posted, but here are some sketches I did over the last two weeks. The first is at Garrod Winery, Saratoga. They have a lovely old car outside the tasting room. I wasn't too pleased with this at the time, but now it doesn't look as bad as I thought.These are some sleeping geese over at Lake Cunningham. There were loads of them around and they didn't pay much attention to us at all once they realized we weren't going to feed them.This painting is in need of a lot of finishing - which it probably isn't going to get anytime soon, poor thing! The composition leaves a lot to be desired too. I think I'll have to start dividing this larger sketchbook into smaller sections.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Allied Arts, Rengstorff and Bernal Gulnac

I've been a slacker of late and not posted for weeks, even though I've been painting. Shame on me! Anyway, here's the art from the last several weeks.
Allied Arts
I just made a larger sketchbook, 12 x 16, so I'm doing a bigger picture, but only one per paintsite as it takes longer. The problem then is that the light and shadow change such a lot in the hours I'm spending on one painting. Its hard to know when to stop and just go complete the thing at home. For this one I just kept going so the lighting is a little inconsistent. Sigh.
Rengstorff Mansion
I started out with the black and white sketch of the house. There are so many fiddly details on it that I got exhausted after a while and went and talked the next few hours away with a painting buddy!(way to procrastinate) I did manage a panoramic view of the lake and hills beyond. The big white space at the bottom is mean to be grass, but I thought if I painted it all green that would be all you would see. Hmm, there's a lot of blank space in both of those, an accurate picture of my brain that day!
Bernal Gulnac Joice Ranch
This was a lovely spot. Lots of deer and quail wandering around, and a nice shady tree to sit under. The barn in the painting is due for renovation so it will eventually be all fixed up and the deer won't be able to wander in for shade. Too bad really, it looks quite picturesque in its broken down state.
You know I can't resist chickens when they're around, so I did some quick sketches of these in their little chicken coop. One of them was fascinated by the squeaky scratching noises my brush pen made. Another was a lovely caramel color and a very interesting shape - she looked like she was wearing bloomers from behind. She was the mean one though - kept sneaking up on the other chickens and pecking their feathers out.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

San Jose History Museum

San Jose History Museum has a wonderful collection of buildings from the city's past. The museum is free during the weekday afternoons and you can pretty much have the place to yourself, although the buildings aren't open. I found a wonderful peekaboo spot where I could see the romantically titled "Dashaway Stables" above a sea of pink and blue hydrangea. Unfortunately my perspective is a little off and the lettering less than perfect - which I blame entirely on my wearing sunglasses rather than my reading glasses! Located in South Second Street in 1888, the original building was destroyed in 1928. Dashaway was a premier stable offering a wide range of horse drawn vehicles for rent in which to see the scenic beauty of Santa Clara Valley. We'll return here in July and look at more of the buildings.I went next door to the Japanese Friendship Garden, which is gorgeous this time of year. The maples offer a delicate splash of red or gold amongst the multitude of greens. There is a beautiful view to contemplate at every turn. All appears serene and cultured in this park. Although I learned that sadly the famed Koi are depleted due to a herpes virus and will have to be replaced.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

DockTown Marina

I spent a glorious morning (breezy 70F) painting at the Docktown Marina in Redwood City. There is an interesting selection of odd buildings, moored boathouses, boats, and marina views.
I was just about to set up and paint the boats, when I noticed this wonderful collection of propane tanks. The light and shadows on them were great so I was very enthused. Most of the shadows changed/disappeared as I was painting so it was a challenge to capture. This is where cameras come in so handy - if only I could remember to take mine! I stood up to do this - and should have got the easel from my car (silly!)Next, I liked the look of the Peninsula Yacht Club building, with its water tank. This was fun to do, and I got to sit in the shade which was a blessing. This picture now appears on the Yacht Club website -""
On the drive to the site I'd seen some wonderful hoppers at a granite crunching place. So, after everyone else had left I set off down the street to see if I could get a view of them. Typically the only place which had a view was surrounded by a fence and guarded by a fierce dog (who sounded like he would definitely eat me if I got close). I had to settle for the view at the truck entrance to the facility - not ideal, but better than nothing. There were some very interesting noises in there, but I couldn't see what was going on.
All in all, a fun day's painting.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Alamaden Lake Park, San Jose

Alamaden Lake Park is a serene little park with a view of the surrounding mountains. Today the weather was picture perfect. The geese were parading around with their goslings and I started by trying to sketch them - not easy as they are continuously moving, and my brush pen sketches are a little tentative.

A young woman with two small girls tottered over in shorts and high heels to feed the geese, and before long geese came from far and wide to enjoy the feast. It was funny to watch the interaction. Any time the geese got too close to her children the mother shoed them back and flung the bits of bread farther away, likewise if any underling geese got too many bits of bread the "boss"goose shoed them away with much wing flapping and beak snapping.
I did a couple of watercolors of the trees and scenery, which I wasn't happy with.
Then I went back to sketching the geese, which were sleeping nearby. Much easier to draw sleepy geese!

Festive Garden

These sketches are from last week's venue - a private garden. We had a record turnout for plein air painters and it was quite a festive atmosphere. There were so many little vignettes of flowers, plants, statues, sculptures etc it was hard to know where to start. I only did two sketches, but I was really happy with the second one.
Thanks to Anna, who not only provided the venue but supplied us with lemonade and snacks!